Archive for the ‘Permaculture Principles and Techniques’ Category

Wow what a crazy but highly enjoyable day yesterday! Starting at around 5am I woke up, had some decaf and headed straight to the allotment as last time I was there I saw at the last moment (when I was rushing home) that the Italian vine tomato had a decent amount of very red ripe fruits (and that was a good 4-5 days ago!), these plants never let me down (if planted in the ground) and so I didn’t want to lose these beautiful tom’s!

A good few hours there resulted also, in a decent batch of Elderberry heads which I got on the way there (Which were used tonight to make Elderberry elixir), a very nice large harvest (photo further below) and a bit of weeding, watering, compost bin management etc.

After arriving home, all harvested goods including the Elderberries needed urgent washing etc. to be placed in the fridge immediately, thereafter I found an older courgette that was about to go bad and so, decided to make Courgette (Zucchini) Cake! Part of the harvest was a decent batch of Purple French Beans and a few Runner Beans as well, these are intended for pickling so were processed and placed overnight into a brine solution so that tomorrow they will be placed into their final jar along with the Spiced Pickling Vinegar (Which I also made tonight!!)

I decided that I need to get a move-on with the elderberry harvests (some are in the fridge and some in the freezer), my other-half and I sat for a good 40 min’s removing the berries from their stalks and placing in a jar to make the Elderberry Winter Ailment Elixir, I have a very good recipe for this and have proven this to be a very good flu / winter cold remedy which was quite effective last Winter with the whole family!

Organic Vegetable Harvest

Organic Permaculture Allotment Harvest (UK) 2018

In the above photo, I have added lines to divide the veg’s into three rows, from top left:

  1. French Purple and Runner beans, Aztec Broccoli and Hokkaido Pumpkin
  2. Sorrel, Maris Piper Potatoes, Giant Goosefoot, Bush Legend Tomatoes, Dwarf Bush Courgettes (Zucchinis) – these were harvested quite small as I am trying to get at least one more harvest before season end,
  3. Elderberry (foraged), Italian Vine tomatoes (great for sauces), Salad Burnet, Tangerine and Millefleur cherry tomatoes and finally Tomatillos with the Snail Tree-cookie below which represents my favourite of the 12 permaculture principles: ‘Use Small and Slow Solutions’

It is definitely Elderberry season right now (at least in and around London) so get foraging as you will definitely will not have much time after the next week or so if you are lucky! Remember, throw them straight into the freezer in a bag, you can take time out later to do something with them in a recipe when you are more collected and have the time to do so! In the meantime, check out this delicious Elderberry Syrup Recipe which I made last year which also has immune system benefits as a buildup to the Winter months, the Elderberry Elixir is more suited to last well into next years winter because it is made with alcohol and preserves better .. enjoy!

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In Permaculture practice often ‘Stacking Functions’ is something one hears from time-to-time, here is a very brief example of Stacking something to form more than one function or purpose …

Today I got hold of dried Cordyline Leaves and I can tell from past experience that once composted, you should get a very nice textured compost that has good structure (with the only downside being time of composting). The plan was only to chop them up and add them into my 4 compost bins but I also decided to place some in heavy duty bags such as re-used compost bags and let them to sit out of sight (perhaps behind a shed?) and compost down on their own, out of the way until needed.

Organic Compost from Cordyline Leaves

Organic Compost from Cordyline Leaves

The solution to try get them a bit of a kick start was to throw them into a bucket of water that has a handfull or so of Chicken Manure Pellets pre-mixed in and let to soak up for 24-48 hours.

Step two is merely throwing the amount of chopped and soaked leaves required to fill Half of the bag and further pack the other half of the bag with a dry bunch of the leaves to help soak up any excess moisture, then puncture some holes in the bag (so that worms can get in) and pack the bag away until needed.

Second Function =

now instead of just pouring out the leftover liquid from the bucket randomly into a bed somewhere or into a drain, you will make the effort to use it diluted as a plant feed in your garden as Chicken Manure is high in Nitrogen…

Another quick example is with plants, the Elaeagnus umbellata’ (Autumn Olive) is a shrub which is common in Permaculture Food Forest design guilds, the plant is deciduous (leaves fall in winter so can be used to provide shade in summer and allow light to penetrate in winter), it is a Nitrogen fixer, which means it is able to provide extra nitrogen naturally to any neighbouring plants thereby helping to support them in a symbiotic system, the final benefit is that it also provides a useful delicious berry in Summer  / Autumn.

I will (hopefully weekly) be posting part by part, all of the episodes of Living With The Land which is a series shot by the good people involved with the Permaculture scene (mainly Permaculture Media) in the UK.

forest gardening

Just one example of how inside / part of a Forest Garden looks like

In this episode they discuss the concept behind Forest Gardening and how it is done, it includes some interview time with Martin Crawford who is known famously in the UK scene as he owns and has been maintaining a 20+ year old forest garden.

 

Follow my blog for updates when I post the following videos in the series, for the imaptient, you can view the series on their youtube channel from the above video.

Lon Perm Fest 17 banner

London Permaculture Festival 2017

We have 15 days left for the London Permaculture Festival of 2017, For full details (opening times, address, entrance fees etc. Please Click Here on the previous post).

My personal three favourite attractions at the event are The Rare Plant Nursery, The book store and the Workshops.

They have updated the itineary for the Festival and the Workshops which are free (part of the entrance fee) which you can attend, as follows:

Workshops in 2017 include:

  • Maddy Harland: Climate change, carbon sequestering and restoring ecosystems
  • Mark Ridsdill Smith: Growing food without a garden – the six secrets to success in container growing
  • Andy Goldring: The Thriving Communities project – raising funds and support to tackle disadvantage across the UK with permaculture
  • Tomas Remiarz: Forest gardening in practice for homes, communities and enterprises
  • Kevin Mascarenhas: Business as a living system inspired by natural patterns
  • Mary Rawlinson: Building with Straw Bales
  • Robin Grey & Rachel Rose Reid: A music, poetry and storytelling circle on land and housing rights from the Tree Acres and a Cow team
  • Alex Laird: Living medicine: Self care with food & herbs
  • Ben Cullen: OLIO free app – Join the food sharing revolution!
  • Mich Thill: Permaculture livelihood
  • Chloe Anthony: Introduction to permaculture as a design system
  • Sue Amos: Composting for urban gardeners
  • Cecilia Litvinoff & Pamela Adams: Making permakids green, organic and fearless
  • Nat Mady: Introduction to permaculture
  • Les Moore: Sociocracy
  • Randy Mayers: Introduction to permaculture
  • Ian Westmoreland: Making your own solar panels
  • Mary Spyrou: Natural dyeing
  • Coco: Tyre Furniture Skills
  • Kamal Simpson: Nature storytelling
  • Cafe Cairo at the Festival
  • Garden tours of Cecil Sharp House Permaculture Learning and Demonstration garden
  • Permablitz London Live!
  • Families at the Festival
    • Face painting
    • Nature storytelling
    • Garden trail
    • Felting
    • Nature art
    • Meet the hens
    • Wriggly worms
    • Mini beasts
    • and much more!

phils

Looking at my ”Country Stat’s” on this blog, it looks like the Philippines is going to take the lead ahead of Australia this month in views (Australia seems to always be third in my stats right after UK and USA who always both dominate 1st and 2nd place), I’m not entirely sure why they suddenly seem to be searching for Permaculture or finding my blog in particular (Perhaps it is my previous article on GM Rice?) but I have decided to dedicate an article based on Organic and Permaculture projects that I have seen there. I have previously searched for either a Permaculture Farm / Forest Garden or Tour video to include the country in my long list of ”Videos and Tours”. I just never got around to sharing or writing an article so, here we have a few videos to view for any Filipino’s looking to self educate and then be able to try grow healthy food  for themselves and family / community.

So, Salamat for Stopping By, here are a few videos, Some are in Tagalog and I think the one in Bohol is in Bisaya with some English thrown in by the video uploader and some of his friends, enjoy:

Video 1: Urban Agriculture Philippines – (15 mins), container growing, aquaponics, rabbits etc.in an Urban setting (Tagalog)

Video 2: Maribojoc Organic Demo Farm Bohol pt1 (After Watching Part 1, the other parts will be available to watch on the side suggestion bar on youtube) – Entrance to this Demonstration Farm is PHP30 per person! That’s Cheap considering what you will learn …

https://youtu.be/X4AMG6P9qww

Video 3: 1 Project Freedom, a Permaculture Demonstration Site, Tublay, Benguet, Philippines (It will be interesting to learn from them if one can take the time out to go on a tour and visit the site)

Please remember, this is an active blog where you Do Not need an account to be able to use my comments section, anyone can comment selecting ”post as Guest”, please comment and get communicating with me and others, Permaculture is also about community and learning 🙂

Further Reading / Educational = Previous Article: How to build a Banana Circle to increase crop flavour, nutrition and yield!

 

This is a good video tour of a Four year old food forest, I would say this is a definite watch for anyone who needs a better understanding of a food forest system and what it entails. The video owner has many such like videos showcasing his project’s entire history (journey).

Video: (4Year Old Food Forest, Bay Area California USA) [19 Min’s]

https://youtu.be/L5RfruUjL1w

Further Reading / Articles about Food Forests:

Previous Post / Article on a 20 Year old Mature medicinal Food Forest

Previous Post -Video Tour of a Front Garden Food Forest in Denver USA

 

Late Summer / Early Autumn is the best time to start gathering the materials you need for your planned Hugel Bed / Mound, many Herbaceous plants which can be used in conjunction with the wood logs, branches and sticks are now ready to be chopped down and composted or used in another way. Autumn / Winter is the preferred time her in the UK to create your Hugelkultur mounds mainly due to the need for the wet season to soak the beds, the buried logs will soak up the winter rains for months until the upcoming growing season.

Two pieces of advice I can definitely lecture on about in this article to ensure a successful Hugel Project are;
1: Ensure Air Spaces inside the mound and
2: Add lots of Nitrogen rich Biomass internally to offset the nitrogen locking that the logs will create during decomposition

Air Spaces:
Although there are guaranteed to be air spaces between the logs and branches / sticks, I have found that rain and the settling down of the materials can cause these spaces to fill in, often causing or risking an anaerobic result – go explore your garden or any other garden you have access to (You may even be able to make a deal with a local gardening company – they could leave a bag of said such materials for you outside one of their customers properties so as long as you collect the bag and not leave unwanted contents at the site!) remember, you can always bargain that most companies have to pay to dump their waste at commercial specialist dumps, remind them that you are helping them reduce the need to do so, in most cases they will still have charged their customers to ”remove” the waste even though you took if off of their hands, the customer will inevitably still be charged for it being dumped.

There are many herbaceous plant species which have a hollow stem and need cutting down in Autumn, cut these stems into pieces which you will spread around and in between your logs at different levels to ensure small air cavities will remain. Cedums, Ornamental Globe Artichokes, Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes), Young Bamboo (and old), some Hydrangea varieties and many more have hollow cavity stems which harden enough when dry to be used in this case.

Then there is dry hard leaf ”garden waste” which takes ages to decompose, these are leaves from shrubs and trees which are more on a glossy and hard / stiff texture than a soft / decidious and most likely in all cases, evergreen. Three options I have from the top of my head as examples are the leaves of ‘Magnolia Grandeflora’, The climber ‘Clematis Armandii’ , the Loquat ‘Eribotrya japonica’ Fruit Tree, Some Rhododendrons (look for the large leaved varieties) and Laurels. We have found that most of these leaves can take up to two years in an unturned / undisturbed compost pile to break down, they maintain their structure even when pressed down so they are perfect for maintaining air spaces / gaps internally within the Hugel Bed / Mound! Practically any glossy leaved plant / shrub / tree will do but the larger and dryer – the better!
In fact, a couple of these Tree / Shrub leaves will actualy curl up to form a cilyndrical tube shape with an internal hollow gap, when pressed these are strong and bounce back right away once released.

Nitrogen Rich Biomass:
Probably one of the best options are fresh grass clippings from your lawn mowing or that of a neighbour / friend. You can even clip your grass at your home twice a week for the last 3 or so weeks of Summer, keep these clippings aside in a breathable bag until ready to add into the Hugel Bed – if you obtain clippings over several weeks, you Will need to add additional fresh greens into the mix to compenate lost nitrogen.
Horse Manure is also a great option but I would suggest it be used more as an addition to fresh green waste rather than 100% of the nitrogen source
The not-so-popular option amongst people new to Permaculture, is human Urine, which has a good nitrogen content and is often used diluted 1 part to 10 in early season liquid feed for plants
If you plan on lets say December being your target month for getting your Hugel project started, I would advise Growing a patch of Broad or Field bean green manure from Late August / Early September – these will be ready for chopping down and adding into your bed around and amongst the logs as the fresh greens instead of grass clippings which won’t be available during that month anyway

Further Reading: Click Here for an article on the step-by-step making of a Hugelkultur Mound / Bed